Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sport Safety

Recently we spent some time covering the dangers of backclipping.  Occasionally, when things don't seem to be going your way on a sport climb, you might want a little extra security aside from just clipping the draw correctly.

For extra security, one of the most obvious moves is to use a locking carabiner on your draw. This will ensure that you don't come unclipped.

Another extremely quick and easy tactic is to clip your draw in backwards (i.e. the tight end of the draw goes to the bolt) and then clip your rope through the loose end.  Once clipped, you can flip the rope carabiner over, thus making it nearly impossible to unclip.

Here's an example:

Note that the rope is still running over the spine.

I don't think one needs to do this on every bolt.  It doesn't provide that much additional security, but it provides enough that you might think about doing it before launching out onto a blank face with no idea where your next bolt is...

--Jason D. Martin


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the suggestion. I do wonder what you mean when you say that this technique makes it almost impossible to unclip, but that it doesn't provide THAT MUCH more safety. These statements seem to be contradictory.

Jason Martin said...

Yep. It's better, and it is almost impossible to unclip. But almost isn't the same as the security of a locking carabiner...


Josh said...

Interesting idea. However, I'd add that for safety's sake, one should be consistent in the the orientation of their quickdraws.

The carabiner that goes into the metal hangar (usually the "loose" one) will get torn up over time from being bounced around (aluminum v. steel, typically); they'll develop small pits, chips, and rough edges. If you then decide to flip the draw and use that end for your rope, you'll be running it over rough bits. No bueno.

So, whichever style you pick, stick with it.

SV Santosha said...

Bad idea. First, the hanger will leave scars on the biner that could later damage your rope. Second, you made it much easier for the top biner to unclip itself from the bolt. See e.g.: http://www.climerware.com/unclip.shtml

Jason Martin said...


So I did just peruse the following:


Now I think that there's some legitimate concern to this. However, this will be manipulated by the direction of the rope. If something radical is happening, then you should use a locking carabiner.

Guides throughout the US regularly flip their draws around to make them easier to unclip. It's really common amongst certified guides...

Now that doesn't mean that there's no risk. The idea here is to decrease risk. The second idea is to decrease risk by doing something simple. If there's anything weird at all, this technique will not decrease the risk.


Any carabiner that shows real damage needs to be replaced. Carabiners are aluminum and get damaged easily...